Messing About With Words
Today’s pointless procrastination came in the form of a discussion about the use of the F-bomb in writing. There are some who believe that the use of it detracts, that it is the sign of a feeble mind, one unable to communicate properly. Agents and editors caution that over-use will put the readers off your writing. Diligently, I have been reducing the number of F-bombs in my MS and replacing them with the wonderfully rich plethora of English and Scots curses. The wonderful thing about writing contemporary fantasy is that you can use the really arcaic ones. They sound so, well, cool. If Josh Whedon got to use Chinese swearing in Firefly, I’ll take this as permission for me to merrily use Gaelic, Welsh and Scots. If it’s good enough for Whedon, then it’s good enough for me. In fact, the whole thing reminds me of the decidely not–safe–for–work Country song by the Australian humourist and folk singer, Kevin ‘Bloody’ Wilson. In pondering all of this, I have to consider that swearing cannot be—ever—the ‘product of a feeble mind.’ It’s a brave man who might call me feeble minded. There are some who would argue I do indeed swear too bloody much, but there’s just something about those frisky four-letter words. I call to mind something I wrote called ‘First Against the Wall: A Dystopian Press Conference.’ This piece, set in a not too distant dystopian future, centres on the persecution of writers and artists and supression of freedom of expression. The main character and narrator—whom I have narcisistically named LJ McDowall—addresses journalists from around the world shortly before her sudden polonium-induced ‘suicide.’ The speech she gives goes something like this:
“Ladies and Gentlemen of the press, without further circumlocution, I draw your attention to the appauling supression of freedom of expression, civil liberties and the right to privacy taking place around the globe. Most especially insidious is the pressencen of such authoritarian creep in those terrirotries were traditionally they have been held as core democratic values: irrespective of partisan considerations. You and have almost universally failed to educate and inform your readers and viewers. Writers and artists, poets and storytellers, satirists and cartoonists are usually the first against the wall come an authoritarian takeover. Once they come for the truth-tellers, they can come—to paraphrase Dom Helda Camera—for the Jews and the Trade Uionists and whomever else the State decides is not a human being, because there’s no one left to tell the truth. How much more convenient for Authority then, when organs of the press silence themselves before they are silenced? The fact that you have all been utterly passive in the face of goosestepping evil, utterly spineless in the face of the slow and steady erosion of our fundemental rights and freedoms, is a matter of grave, and enduring concern. Unfortunately most of you are merely wondering who Kanye Kardashian might be screwing this week. You will only remember that during an eloquent address, shortly before her disappearence, a very minor Scots poet told you all to go and fuck yourselves.”
There is, of course, nothing like a good fuck to drive the point home.